The Discovery of Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels is widely known as a 200 km colossal network of interconnecting underground tunnels in Cu Chi District (Ho Chi Minh City). During the Vietnam War, the system was used as a place to plan and launch several military campaigns. Today, this is not only a significant war memorial but also a must-see tourist attraction. In Cu Chi, Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc are the 2 different tunnel display sites.

Inside a part of reconstructed and widened tunnels of Cu Chi – Photo credit @amasiatravel

History

Built in the 1940s, the tunnels of Cu Chi were dug with simple hand tools as the main area to communicate or hide during the conflict against the French after World War II. The network was then renovated and expanded by the Viet Cong guerillas, who subsequently used them as the bastion for most attacks, including the 1968 Tet Offensive. More surprisingly, the tunnels housed up to about 10,000 people, who mostly spent their lifetime underground, and only came out to gather supplies or to fight.

 

An M-41 tank destroyed by land mines in Cu Chi tunnels – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Nowadays

As mentioning early, there are 2 primary areas of the tunnels for guests to experience, namely Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc. So, what are their differences? As the original tunnels, Ben Duoc was commonly used by the Vietnamese soldiers and Cu Chi people, who lived, slept, ate, worked, and planned the military activities here. In general, they were staying this place during the daytime and only going out at night so as to defeat or get supplies. The tour in the Ben Duoc tunnels tends to last for 1 hour. Next to the tunnels is Ben Duoc temple, which is also worth a visit.

The village of Ben Dinh is situated nearly 50 km from the city centre. It’s not surprising that Ben Dinh is the more popular of the tourist destinations due to the shorter travelling distance, and on top of that, the tunnel system in Ben Dinh was reconstructed and widened with the intention of welcoming a great number of visitors and making it easier for them to move inside. The tunnels are depicted as a touristy spot, so it’s not hard to understand why it can be sometimes overcrowded, especially during the high season. It is actually the place to go.

Unforgettable experience inside Cu Chi tunnels – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Location

Located in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City (around 70 kilometres far from the city centre), the tunnels is quite accessible by boat, taxi, and bus. Or alternatively, tourists are also welcomed to enjoy a half-day guided tour of Cu Chi Tunnels that will obviously include transport.

Catching buses from the centre of the city will take more than 1 hour, a taxi ride around 45 minutes, while a boat will take about 1 hour to get there. If you are a little adventurous, driving a private car or motorbike is also a good choice. However, it can be more difficult than partaking in a tour group. It’s advisable to view the city map first before deciding to travel by bus!

Tapioca, the main course in the tunnels – Photo credit @Egil Heggen

Tips

  • The tunnels are not for claustrophobic travellers.
  • There is also a weapons range at Ben Dinh, where you have permission to fire live weapons.
  • There is no dress code but wear a comfortable pair of sneakers and long pants to avoid scratches while crawling in the tunnels.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent should be packed in your bag.
  • For your best experience, visit Cu Chi Tunnels in the dry season from December to April so that you will not get muddy from the rain. Remember to take a poncho with you during the rainy season.
  • Do not overlook the souvenir shop. You can get some souvenirs made of bamboo at a very reasonable price for your family and friends there.

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